Former ASA deputy chairman joins PCC

The former deputy chairman of the Advertising Standards Agency has been appointed to the board of the Press Complaints Commission.

Neil Watts, a former headteacher and educational consultant, replaces former MP and MSP John Home Robertson.

His appointment as a commissioner comes three weeks after former Conservative Cabinet Minister Lord Hunt was been named as the new chairman of the press watchdog, and at a time when the future of the PCC is in question.

Hunt said Watts was joining ‘at an interesting time, as we all work hard to bring about the regeneration and renewal of the PCC”.

He continued: ‘It is vital that the commission has strong and varied public representation, and I am sure Neil’s experience and expertise, including serving on a similar self-regulatory body, will make him a significant addition to the board.

“I also wish to pay tribute to the work of John Home Robertson. Our tenures have not coincided but I know from colleagues that he has contributed greatly and judiciously to the commission’s judgements over the last three years.”

Watts said: ‘This is clearly an important time for the PCC and self-regulation of the press.

‘Under a new chair, it has the chance to reinvigorate itself, and do ever more to maintain standards in the press.

‘I am excited about the challenge, and want to build on the past successes of the PCC, as well as help to guide its onward improvement.

‘The PCC has a vital role to play in maintaining a balance between freedom of expression and protection of the individual, and I am looking forward to playing my part in its future.”

There are seventeen members of the commission, of which ten members (including the chair) are lay commissioners who have no connection to the industry.

The remaining seven are made up of senior editors in the national and regional press, and from periodicals.

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